Question

One of the primary distinctions between our intelligence with that of other primates may lay not so much in any specific skill but in our ability to extend knowledge gained in one context to new and different ones.

Option A
Option B
Option C
Option D
Option E

(This question is from Official Guide. Therefore, because of copyrights, the complete question cannot be copied here. The question can be accessed at GMAT Club)

Solution

Sentence Analysis

Here, understanding the structure of the sentence will go a long way in understanding the meaning of the sentence:

  • One of the primary distinctions
    • between our intelligence
    • with that of other primates
  • may lay
    • not so much in any specific skill
    • but in our ability to extend knowledge gained in one context to new and different ones.

The sentence presents some information about one of the primary distinctions between our intelligence and the intelligence of other primates. The distinction lies

  • more in our ability to extend knowledge gained from one context to new contexts
  • than in any specific skill

The sentence has a number of errors:

  1. The correct idiom is “distinction between X and Y”. It’s been incorrectly used as “distinction between X with Y”
  2. “lay” is incorrect verb. We need the verb “lie”. Please note that “lay” always require an object, which is not present in this sentence. Check out this article for the difference between ‘lie’ and ‘lay’.
  3. The correct idiom is “not so… as”. The structure “not so… but” is incorrect.

Option Analysis

(A) Incorrect. For the reasons described above.

(B) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. Error no. 1 of the original sentence i.e. “distinction between X with Y”
  2. “not so… but instead” is unidiomatic.

(C) Correct. All the errors in the original sentence have been corrected.

(D) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. “distinction X has from Y” is unidiomatic.
  2. The correct idioms are “not… but” or “not so… as”. The construction in this option “not… as” is unidiomatic.

(E) Incorrect. For the following reasons:

  1. “distinctions of X to Y” is unidiomatic.
  2. ‘lay’ is the incorrect verb here, as explained in the original sentence.

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